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Eco Friendly Gifts for Sustainable Travel Lovers

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When you want to see as much of the world as you can while still leaving the lightest footprint possible you become very aware of the little things that can make a big difference.

While I’ve been carrying a Keep Cup around the world for years and have my own sometimes slightly odd ways to try and reduce my impact, as I was researching this eco friendly gifts guide I came across some new things I can’t wait to try myself.

So whether you’re hunting for a great sustainable gift for an eco conscious traveller, or you’d like to introduce a friend or family member to something that can help them make a change, here are some ideas to get you started.

Cheeki Wine Tumblers

As much as I love my Keep Cup when it comes to having a glass of wine or a Bloody Mary on a plane it would be nice to be able to drink it out of something a bit fancier.

Which is why my eyes lit up when I saw these new wine tumblers from Cheeki. Apart from looking super cute, these insulated tumblers use double walled vacuum technology, which will help keep drinks cold for up to six hours. Not that a glass of bubbles on my watch would last that long, but good to know.

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Cheeki Wine Tumblers will help reduce plastic on planes and picnics

There’s a clear spill resistant lid and a stainless steel straw, and apart from upping my BYO plane game I’m thinking this will be a great addition at picnics and festivals. Now, which Cheeki colour to go for? Eenie, meenie…   

The Last Straw

While most adults are quite capable of consuming a drink without a straw, there are times when I do like to have one. Frozen cocktails, I’m looking at you.

And that’s when a stainless steel straw comes in handy.

There are loads of options out there, and if you’d like something with a personal touch, you can even have a stainless steel straw engraved with your friend’s name through this Etsy store. After you decide if they’re more of a Suck it up, Buttercup or a Sip Sip Hooray kinda person.

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Personalised drinking straws

Or if you know your friend carries their own straws, a personalised straw holder bag is another cute option to help keep their bag nice and organised.

Travel Cutlery Set and Collapsible Bowl

When I see someone say no to plastic cutlery and whip out their own portable set it gives me a little lift. It’s so lovely to see people give a darn and with so many cute cutlery sets out there these days, they can also look good doing it.

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You can get bamboo cutlery sets in their own roll up pouch with a straw and straw cleaner to boot, or if you’d rather feel a more familiar utensil in your hands, there are metal options to be found too.

Considering I eat most takeaway with a fork or chopsticks, I’m thinking I could easily give up a knife to travel with this super cute portable pastel flatwear set with its own travel case.

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A cute travel cutlery set is a great sustainable gift

When it comes to eating takeaway on the road often we may have our own utensils but still find ourselves eating out of a plastic container.

One way to get around that one is to travel with a collapsible bowl like one of these that you can wash it out and then flatten it before putting back in your bag.

While most searches for collapsible bowls will show results for dogs, more humans are starting to use them too so they’re joining in the eco friendly gifts love. And hey, if the dog’s one looks better and is food safe, we won’t tell anyone.

A handy travel water purifier

I’m a big fan of drinking tap water whenever I can on my travels, but unfortunately there are some places where I worry about hidden nasties that could potentially ruin the trip.

Whether you don’t trust the water that’s coming out of the tap in your hotel or want to go hiking and drink water from a lake, there are ways to filter out the bad guys.

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When used correctly portable UV filters like a Steripen can kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses, or you can buy water bottles like Grayl that have built in purifiers.

Before you start firing up the filters find out if the tap water is a worry in the first place. In some places the water being sold in those plastic bottles is exactly the same as the stuff coming out of the tap, so you can save the filters for when you actually need them.

Go Green with BYO Toiletries

If you spend a lot of time in hotels you may have noticed a welcome change in the bathroom. Those tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are on the way out, and refillable dispensers are on the way in.

As I explained in a story I wrote for The Points Guy in the last few months two of the world’s biggest hotel groups, InterContinental Hotels (IHG) and Marriott International have announced they’ll completely phase out single use toiletry bottles.

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Sadly single use bottles are rarely recycled and so end up in landfill, and considering Marriott’s new program alone will save around 500 million single used bottles a year that’s awesome news.

That said it’s going to take a while before every hotel makes the switch, and until that happens we can do our bit to reduce waste by filling up travel size containers from larger, recyclable plastic shampoo and conditioner at home.

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Reusable Carry On Containers

You can get plain, clear ones, or opt for something like this cute and colourful set of refillable and carry on size approved containers.

Before wrapping it up and giving it to your friend, you can also fill up the bottles with a product you love to get them off to a good start.

Get in an eco friendly lather

Another way to reduce the amount of plastic you use, as well as lighten the load in your suitcase, is to carry solid shampoo and conditioner bars rather than travel with liquids.

Australian company NeuBar’s shampoo and conditioners are kind to all sorts of hair, including coloured locks, and are palm oil free (if only other hair products on the market were the same!). And for extra green points, when they post their goodies all over the world they send them with carbon neutral couriers in 100% plastic free packaging.

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NueBar Travel Kit is a great eco friendly gift

You can also find Etsy stores like Bathing Beauties  that let you choose between receiving your bars in a travel tin or by themselves, so you can simply buy the refills when it’s time to top up.

And speaking of travel containers, a little thing that sends me crazy in hotels is when people open a bar of soap, use it for the one night they’re there, and then leave it to be thrown away.

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Some hotels do try to recycle them, but most don’t so it’s such a waste. And sometimes the products that are being so casually discarded are really lovely too.

In the past I’ve used a plastic zip lock bag to put the soap in so it can travel around the world with me, being used until it’s on it’s very last, slinky legs. At one point I started keeping track of how many soaps I’d saved by recycling a single bar but when it got into the dozens and that hunk of soap was still going strong I stopped counting.

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A soap travel bag is a cute eco friendly gift

To make the whole travelling with soap thing a whole lot cuter, you can get waterproof cotton soap saving eco bags, including these ones that are handmade in Italy and come with a slice of olive oil Mediterranean soap to get you started. Because the bags allow the soap to breathe you can pop it in while it’s still wet and enjoy a sweet smelling suitcase as a little side bonus.

There are also soap dishes like this one that convert into a travel case when it’s time to hit the road. Or there are other handy containers out there like this sweet soap tin with a sloth. Yes, it’s definitely time for me to upgrade from my zip lock. 

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Save soap with a travel soap container

Eco friendly bags

When it’s time for your friend to upgrade their luggage there are some great sustainable options to be found.

The Toronto based luggage company Heys has been making bags for more than 30 years and have a special eco friendly range called Eco Orbis where hard-case suitcases are made from 100% recycled post-industrial ABS plastic.

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Heys Eco Orbis bags are a sustainable travel option

For soft case sustainability, Samsonite’s Eco Nu (also known as Eco Glide) cases are made out of 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles.

All of the fabric, right down to the lining, is made from water bottles, and I must admit I’m surprised how few bottles it takes to make a suitcase.

According to Samsonite an underseater case is made up of 24 recycled plastic bottles, while it takes 26 to make a carry-on, 43 to make a medium suitcase and 58 recycled plastic bottles to create a large Samsonite case. Which is pretty awesome.

For duffel bags, totes, bike bags and wallets, the team at RAREFORM create one-of-a-kind bags out of old billboards.

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Rareform bags make great sustainable gifts

While they may look like paper from a distance, billboards are actually made out of a durable vinyl that could be used for all sorts of things but sadly usually ends up in landfill. RAREFORM now transforms more than 4,500kg (10,000 pounds) of recycled vinyl into hand cut products every month.

Foldable tote bag  

An essential both at home and away. Every handbag that’s big enough should have a foldable tote bag inside, just ready to spring into life and save plastic bags every way they can.

If you’re travelling with a friend, keep an eye out for one in the gift shop of a museum or attraction you’ve visited together. That you can back some great memories when it appears at birthday drinks or under the Christmas tree when you get home.

If you’re shopping online, check out Bagito. Their premium rPet fabric is made entirely from recycled plastics and is soft and durable. They also donate a portion of their profits to Power2Sustain, a non-profit K-12 environmental literacy project.

You can also find loads of reusable foldable shopping bags here on Amazon and you can check out the fun and colourful options on the Etsy store here

For a Good Cause

And while it’s not technically in the travel zone, you might also like to consider making a donation in your friend’s name, or in the case of Kiva, setting up a small loan for them.

More than 1.7 billion people around the world don’t have access to a bank, and so have no way of taking out a loan to help with their home, their education, their health or to start a business. Kiva is an international non-profit that crowdfunds loans starting at just $25.

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If you give someone a Kiva Gift Card they can look through the website and loan the money to someone who inspires them. Then when the loan is paid back they can either take the money out or better yet, keep it in the system and loan it to someone else. 

Or you can also make a donation in your friend’s name to I Fund Women, a site dedicated to helping women’s businesses get off the ground. Some businesses even include a little gift from them to their donors so you can then give it to your friend when you share the news.

There are lots of other great charities out there that let you buy eco friendly gifts for a village, like a well through Oxfam Unwrapped or the training and tools for beekeepers through World Vision’s gift catalogue.

With so many incredible organisations out there doing their bit to help the planet it’s easy to find something special for that person (and planet) you love.

Sustainable Travel Gift Ideas Pin

If you liked this story and would like to share it on Pinterest, here’s a pin we prepared earlier, with thanks to Kilian M for the beautiful image.

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